I’m a middle-aged gay man, in a loving supportive relationship, who’s being treated for Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personalities.
I attend monthly sessions with my Psychotherapist and am in a healthy place right now.
As Covid restrictions open up, I’ll be spending time with family and friends. They don't know about my recent diagnosis.
I feel like it’s "coming out" all over again. When I was young, I was an activist for gay rights (housing, employment, social, etc.). I dealt with a lot of negativities then. I don't know if I have the mental strength today.
I know we’re ALL dealing with issues. I’m trying to be a better listener. Please provide guidance/tools for social situations. My support team is great, but I value your opinion.
Seeking Social Understanding
With a supportive loving relationship and ongoing psychotherapy, I feel confident that you’ll handle the social side of revealing your diagnosis.
Family and friends will be very interested and also concerned. So, using whatever explanation feels most correct to you, make it clear to them. Your psychotherapist may provide the definition with which you’re most comfortable.
For readers, here’s the Wikipedia version: “Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as multiple personality disorder (MPD), is a mental disorder characterized by the maintenance of at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. The disorder is accompanied by memory gaps beyond what would be explained by ordinary forgetfulness.”
With these people whom you care about, be clear but don’t over-worry them. Tell them how you’re learning to handle various aspects of DID.
During this period of disclosure, don’t ask too much of yourself. Again, your psychotherapist can help you set limits on what you need to explain up front.
And don’t set the bar of total understanding too high. Give others time to fully absorb your situation.
When do I start relaxing my teenage daughter’s “rules” regarding her social life? How much do I trust that a girlfriends’ “sleepover” party is closed to boys?
My daughter’s a good student, and has a couple of very close girlfriends I like. But in the larger group, some of the girls are more restless, and stay out later with their latest boyfriends.
When my daughter was younger, and the kids had playdates, I’d always speak to the other mother first, e.g., asking how many children would be present, another adult home, etc.
During the pandemic, there were other questions to ask, related to health and safety. Now, with things opening up, my daughter and her friends are visibly restless. I see her tensing up when I even start asking where she’s going, and with whom.
I want her to enjoy these teenage years, but I also feel that having been held back for over two years from so many in-school classes/sports/social events, that she and her friends haven’t developed their own good judgement about what’s okay to let happen, and what’s not okay.
Build faith in each other as mother and daughter by staying close and interested, without being overbearing. Do not raise every possible negative of what “can happen” in situations.
Instead, ask what she’s thinking - does she feel comfortable about the plans, what does she like about her new friend, what are now her favourite places to go with friends, etc. Let the conversation flow, and include trust and laughter.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding “Dear Readers…”
“I read your column almost daily and my wife’s a big fan. You sometimes begin your column with the salutation “Dear Readers.” Although each column appears in many papers each day, you don't have readers, because each column is read by only one person at a time. You’re speaking directly to that person, and not from a podium in an auditorium.
“Even Roosevelt, Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan etc. did not speak to listeners, since each person, even in a vast crowd, listens directly to what that one person’s saying and takes away something different from what each audience member hears.
“When I read you, you’re speaking directly to me. When my wife reads you, she hears directly from you - it’s a one-on-one process.”
Ellie - Thanks for your very thoughtful reminder to all who take on the responsibility of communication, that we keep the reader/listener top of mind.
Tip of the day:
There’s a time for giving and receiving understanding and empathy, both for the people you wish to inform of your difficulties, and for yourself to accept.